Lawyers have many reputations, one of which is that they are expensive. While it is true that legal advice often does not come cheap, there are exceptions, one of which is the free consultation. With the costs and expenses of running a law firm, why would any attorney give away any legal advice for free, especially an hour of it? Here are a few reasons:
1. A free consultation makes it easy for people to come in the door. Law firms are businesses, and increased foot traffic is usually good for any business.
2. Not all lawyers are a good fit for a client and not all clients are a good fit for a lawyer. A free consultation minimizes the risk that a client (or attorney) will feel obligated to stick in a relationship that does not work.
3. Not all people who contact an attorney need the attorney’s services. The free consultation allows an attorney to gauge the needs of the client and for the client to gather information about the legal process.
4. Everyone likes something that is free.
5. We often have great clients who do not have a lot of money. By making it easier for these clients to come see us, we may find cases that earn both our office and clients significant amounts of money.
6. While consultations cost clients no money, they do take time. By agreeing to spend an hour or so in our office, we can verify a client’s dedication to solving their issue.
7. Lawyers are like everyone else — they need to pay bills. However, like all relationships, a free consultation acts as an interview or a first date. Once a relationship is formed, it is much more likely that a client will want to hire an attorney.
8. Attorney-client relationships are built on trust. Often, people do not trust that something is “free.” By offering a free consultation, and really meaning it, an attorney establishes that she is trustworthy.
9. Word of mouth is great advertisement. Even if a client learns that she does not need to hire the attorney during the free consultation, that client may refer her friends to the attorney, knowing that the attorney is a good value and trustworthy.
10. A free consultation provides attorneys with opportunities to provide legal advice to those who otherwise may not be able to afford to speak with an attorney.